Dear Jill,

It's us, again. You know, the coalition from the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party. We don't know why you won't return our calls, but we'd just like to say how much we like and admire you, and how much we'd like to get fired up about your candidacy for governor.

We're already getting fired up for the presidential race. It's been a long time since we had one candidate, much less two, as exciting and different as the two now vying for our party's nomination. And, not since JFK, have we seen the machine offer up anything as exciting as Obama. Could it be possible in our wildest dreams that we Hoosier Democrats are actually going to be given a meaningful chance at shaping that nomination?


Yes we can. Change. Those are the words and sentiments that resonate among us and our party. Those are the words and sentiments that will bring a wave of the young, the hopeful and the willing into the voting booths this spring and fall.

Let's build on that. We like you. You have the face of change, not another white guy in a suit but a homegrown Hoosier woman. You're no corporate carpetbagger, flown in from Princeton and Washington and remade as everyone's best friend, everyguy. You're the real deal, sharp as a tack, and an IU grad to boot.

Yes we can. Change. How wonderful to be able to attach those bon mots to you. To go into the voting booth feeling the same infectious zeal for our state's leadership, as for the national.

But we can't. Not yet.

Why not? Because, despite the wonderful packaging, we're scared. Of what? That you might not really be about Yes we can. Or about Change.

You've come down to Bloomington, the most economically vibrant city in Indiana, and told crowds of your support for I-69, which Bloomington is on record as vehemently opposing, for fear the highway will destroy that vibrant economy.

Politically clumsy, yes. But made frightening by your aggressive refusal to change your mind on the matter, or even to hear the counter-arguments.

You've spoken for the need to increase legacy economic development initiatives like tax abatements and corporate inducements -- to try and attract back to Indiana that sector that has already, and irrevocably, fled across a national border made osmotically porous by the very trade agreements most favored by your friends at the Democratic Leadership Council.

You've not spoken of progressive economic reforms, attempts to make Indiana less hampered by its Indiana-ness so as to attract the creative class members that are the foundation of entrepreneurial innovation.

Reforms like requiring a surcharge on new coal-fired electricity generation in the state, particularly when that generation is intended for export out of state. Such a move would encourage the development of carbon sequestration technology, seeding our university technology and research parks, while also doing good to improve Indiana's status as the second most polluted state in the nation.

But that was a reform that you rejected, for reasons we're still trying to understand.

It almost seems that, on some issues, you're trying to co-opt the current governor's frame. More highways/less regulation/more corporate welfare as a way to economic salvation.

Problem is, it never was, and never will be. But it's a good way to feather pockets, which is why the Republicans do it.

But we're supposed to be Democrats, not Republicans. I hope you're not taking most of your advice from Marion County, where Democrats there engineered Joe Kernan's disastrously inept campaign against Daniels, and then turned it into a twofer by situating Bart Peterson as the Democrat-as-a-Republican, albeit with a human face.

We can't out-Republican the Republicans. They're always going to be better, and more genuine, at it than we are.

So let's be Democrats. Better yet, let's be Democratic Democrats. Let's not acquiesce to the corporate frame of legacy economic development. Let's not fall for the fallacy that economic development is incompatible with improvement of our environment. Let's not pretend that yet another highway, in a state varicose already with highways, will accomplish anything but displace people from their homes and fill the coffers of the land speculators.

Yes we can. Change. Give us the excitement, at the state level, that we Democrats are enjoying at the national level. Give us a candidate we can believe in. Give us, you.

Gregory Travis can be reached at .